The Rise Of Virtual Reality In Real Estate

Forbes Real Estate Council, COMMUNITYVOICE
June 13, 2017

Post Written By: Nav Athwal
Founder and CEO of RealtyShares, bringing marketplace lending to real estate and building an ecosystem around it through technology.

Open house visits are a fun way to explore a property, but when you go for a visit, you have to imagine what it might look like with your own furniture, setup and style. You may know the space is a great fit for your needs, but the current owner’s furniture, staged furniture or empty rooms might not be conducive to really understanding what the home would look like if you moved in. Thanks to new developments in real estate tech, the days of imagining may soon be behind us.

Now technology is looking to fill this imagination gap through the use of virtual and augmented reality, giving buyers and sellers a new way to experience properties. As a real estate industry executive, I take an active interest in any technology that improves the overall customer experience in real estate. Here are some of the companies worth keeping track of as they continue to innovate with technology.

Immerse Yourself With Matterport

Property photos have been a key part of property marketing for decades, but thanks to advances in video and internet technology, there is no need to view properties in only two dimensions.

With new technology from Matterport, real estate listings are livelier. For example, homes listed with Redfin come with a 3-D walkthrough.

“We’re making a digital copy of the inside of the world,” Matterport Director of Commercial Real Estate Marc Rehberger told me when we spoke at Disrupt CRE. “It increases the amount of time spent on an ad between three to six times when there’s a Matterport model on that ad. … It’s very, very sticky.” Since its founding in 2011, the company has scanned more than 300,000 properties.

Matterport is “supplying a dimensionally accurate model of the space exactly how the human eye would see it,” said Rehberger. “People who are investing, people who are using [and] people who are buying love the ability to understand the space because it’s natural. It’s exactly the way it is.”

Before long, you’ll be able to attach a VR headset to your phone and get an open house experience without having to go to the property in person.

Click here to view an example of this home in Portland, Oregon. Using special 360-degree cameras, Redfin photographers capture every angle of the property.

Update Any Room With roOomy And Google Tango

When you walk into an open house, it is tough to visualize how the property would appear with your unique flair. Many people want their homes to look like the staged version, but unless you are willing to pay for all of that furniture, it is more likely you will bring your own trappings with you when you move.

roOomy is a virtual staging technology company that allows you to visualize any room or space the way you would decorate it yourself. Drawing from a catalog of more than 100,000 furniture and household items, roOomy allows you to upload a picture of a room and virtually decorate it to reflect your personal tastes.

Agents, investors and buyers alike can take advantage of these amazing tools. View what the room would look like with your own furnishings on your computer or, with virtual reality and a partnership with Google Tango, step into the room and look around as if you had already made the changes. This is the future of open houses and online property marketing.

Peer Into The Future With Virtual Xperience

roOomy and Matterport are excellent options to view and interact with a property that already exists, but what about properties still under construction? That is the idea behind Virtual Xperience.

Using 3-D modeling, Virtual Xperience allows VR headset users to access the full walkthrough experience in a property that is in development or under construction. Investors building a new condo or office space can start selling before a shovel hits the dirt with interactive 3-D walkthroughs. Developers are using Real Time Options, which customizes color palettes, materials, furnishing and lighting conditions, to help buyers personalize and visualize the unbuilt spaces, as well as analytics to understand market trends.

The core package from Virtual Xperience includes 2-D images, 3-D walkthroughs and a 3-D flythrough video experience that truly brings the property to life, with multiple deliverables that help buyers through the sales journey, starting on their mobile devices.

VR And Real Estate: Untapped Potential For A Technology Revolution

At our company, we (along with our sponsors and investors) plan to take advantage of these new technologies as we all experiment with new ways to utilize 3-D imaging and virtual reality. Very soon, I believe that everyone in real estate will be tapping into these technologies to ensure properties sell as quickly as possible for the best possible price.

In the meantime, we are keeping our eyes on new developments from roOomy, Google Tango, Matterport and Virtual Xperience to see what they come up with next. It’s an exciting time for real estate tech.


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